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FBI Scolds NASDAQ Over Out of Date Patches 66

Posted by samzenpus
from the someone-needs-a-time-out dept.
DMandPenfold writes "NASDAQ's aging software and out of date security patches played a key part in the stock exchange being hacked last year, according to the reported preliminary results of an FBI investigation. Forensic investigators found some PCs and servers with out-of-date software and uninstalled security patches, Reuters reported, including Microsoft Windows Server 2003. The stock exchange had also incorrectly configured some of its firewalls. NASDAQ, which prides itself on running some of the fastest client-facing systems in the financial world, does have a generally sound PC and network architecture, the FBI reportedly found. But sources close to the investigation told Reuters that NASDAQ had been an 'easy target' because of the specific security problems found. Investigators had apparently expressed surprise that the stock exchange had not been more vigilant."
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FBI Scolds NASDAQ Over Out of Date Patches

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  • by AftanGustur (7715) on Friday November 25, 2011 @05:23AM (#38164316) Homepage
    If these had been Linux servers, Microsoft would now be making bold statements about "Linux Insecurity" and urging Everyone to get a complete Microsoft Solution with patch management.
    • by Alwin Henseler (640539) on Friday November 25, 2011 @05:46AM (#38164428) Homepage

      In an alternate Universe, software would be released not before it's done, bug-free, and not need updates other than to add functionality.

      Software quality being what it is today, there's only 2 choices:

      1. If you don't want to patch all the time, disconnect from network so that you have a stand-alone installation (or only use on very strict managed local network).
      2. If internet-facing: patch, patch, patch, so that you have current software with known leaks fixed. In this respect, *nix or Windows doesn't make much difference, the important thing is that it's kept up-to-date.
      • by Nerdfest (867930)
        There does seem to be a pretty large difference in the time between exploit and patch between the two platforms though. You can have Windows exploits go unpatched for months, although occasionally there is a workaround to mitigate the risk.
      • by somersault (912633) on Friday November 25, 2011 @07:26AM (#38164696) Homepage Journal

        How are you going to guarantee that your software is bug-free? That's like trying to prove that God exists.

        Software complexity being what it is today, it's very difficult to make sure that a system is bug free. Even if you didn't rely on other people's libraries, it would be very difficult to do anything non-trivial without introducing some kind of unanticipated behaviour.

        Back to the summary, what's wrong with running Windows Server 2003 if it's still getting security updates? Wouldn't it be more likely to be secure than a newer version of Windows Server, which has new features that haven't had as much time to mature?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Back to the summary, what's wrong with running Windows Server 2003 if it's still getting security updates? Wouldn't it be more likely to be secure than a newer version of Windows Server, which has new features that haven't had as much time to mature?

          Even more so, since win2003 doesn't have IPv6 by default. IPv6 software stacks have not been around that long, and many security flaws have been found (not in IPv6, in IPv6 software). Even OpenBSD was caught by an IPv6 flaw.

          Unless you really need IPv6, you're mu

        • by WorBlux (1751716)
          Formal proofs, redundant hardware pathways. But ya the proofs grow faster than the size of the code that they prove.
          • Even if you prove that the code matches the proof - how do you know that the proof itself doesn't contain some false assumption? That you haven't misunderstood the problem that you're trying to solve? You then have to prove the proof. And so on.

            • by WorBlux (1751716)
              The proof is about the code implicitly and proves that it follows a specification. Both are written in precise formal language though the specification less so. If you don't trust it read over it yourself. The proof itself is in a formal language, and the rules for manipulating them clear. There are several formal system, none of which have more than a handful of axioms, and such known systems are mathematically equivalent in what they can describe.
              • Yes, but your specification may have bugs, which is what I was saying. You can prove that it matches the specification, but that doesn't mean that it's bug free.

      • by rrohbeck (944847)

        In an alternate Universe, software would be released not before it's done, bug-free, and not need updates other than to add functionality.

        Sounds like Debian stable to me. Almost.

      • by manu0601 (2221348)

        If you don't want to patch all the time, disconnect from network"

        And then you get owned by a USB key. This is how Stuxnet made its way into Iranian nuclear facilities

        .

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 25, 2011 @06:02AM (#38164472)

      If these had been Linux servers, Microsoft would now be making bold statements about "Linux Insecurity" and urging Everyone to get a complete Microsoft Solution with patch management.

      If you think *nix servers in enterprise networks are more up to date then Windows servers, you clearly dont work in the industry.

    • by The Askylist (2488908) on Friday November 25, 2011 @06:48AM (#38164592)
      More concerning is the poor firewall configuration. Badly patched servers can be put down to laziness, or unwillingness to fully regression test servers running bespoke software. Badly configured firewalls can only indicate incompetence.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Laziness in following security bulletins and applying critical patches == incompetence of sysadmin.

        You're basically saying "Their admins aren't just incompetent, they're incompetent as well!"

      • by ewanm89 (1052822)
        I'm surprised there is even a firewall to start with: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjIdzBtTBnI [youtube.com]
      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Poor firewall configuration lies int he hands of the CTO. It's that man that is 100% at fault for that problem.

        Been there done that. Had one of those 3 letter assholes demand we punch holes in a firewall that 24 months later a hacker used to get in.

        • Ditto. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday November 25, 2011 @11:14AM (#38166006)

          It is impossible for a cynic (admin) to get certain concepts through to an optimist (management).

          Every day that you are not cracked (or the crack go undetected) is "proof" for the optimist that he was right and you were just pushing unnecessary precautions to justify your job.

          So, those 24 months ... that's over 700 times he was "proven" right and you were "proven" wrong.

          The same with skipping patches. Every patch skipped multiplied by every day without a crack ... he's right thousands of times and you're chicken little ("the sky is falling, the sky is falling").

          • by Pieroxy (222434)

            This. This. A thousand times this.

            Badly written systems are 99% the fault of the management. Do we need an architect? An expert? What for? The unqualified dude told me he can write the software on his own, and man, he's cheap!

            Sure. It'll work. Most of the time. And whose fault is it? The unqualified dude?

          • That was the story of the financial crisis. A man jumps off a 100-story building, and after a while says "Look, I have 99 floors worth of data proving I'm safe. That's statistically significant!".

  • Friday! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 25, 2011 @05:52AM (#38164450)

    Hey it's friday. let's just go get a beer and skip this patch testing. What could Possibly go wrong?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 25, 2011 @06:37AM (#38164562)

    Reuters which is quoted in the article and which also provide feeds for the market are very slow at providing support updated Windows.

    http://thomsonreuters.com/products_services/financial/financial_products/a-z/3000_xtra/#tab3
    Reuters 3000 Software requirements:
            Windows Vista with Service Pack 1, Windows XP Pro with Service Pack 2 and Service Pack 3.
            Office 2007 and Office 2007 with Service Pack 1 (with restrictions on Excel 2007 Service Pack 1).
            IE 6.0, IE 6.0 with Service Pack 1 and Service Pack 2, IE 7.0.

  • Scolds? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aikodude (734998) on Friday November 25, 2011 @08:08AM (#38164814) Homepage

    Scolds? Really? What is this, kindergarten? How about a nice hefty fine to make them take security seriously? Oh, I forgot, can't be angering the real bosses. :/

  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Friday November 25, 2011 @08:17AM (#38164844)
    NASDAQ makes at least $0.001 in exchange fees for every single transaction that happens on that exchange, and yet they can't hire a competent IT department.
    • by dintech (998802)

      Valve makes a nice percentage for every single transaction that happens on Steam, and yet they can't hire a competent IT department.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I love reading quotes like that... You made me laugh. Financial services are a different beast and there are a couple of risks/issues that have to be understood that make patching very difficult...

      First, you can't say the "IT department" as if its a simple thing that can make decisions. The IT department consists of several hundred to several thousand individuals working in different groups with different requirements. Looking at the org chart, most commonly the CTO or COO is the person that links the syste

      • Now throw in a team dedicated to information security and you get additional opinions on how to do patching. Its next to impossible to put 10 people in room and get a decision, and these conversations go on for years.

        If that's the case, they're not a team dedicated to information security, they're dedicated to having easy jobs and like to call themselves 'information security professionals'.

  • Dear WallStreet,

    I will work for profits. Condo in Manhattan.

    Thanks
      P.S. I am serious.

  • by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby AT comcast DOT net> on Friday November 25, 2011 @10:29AM (#38165560)

    It's a culture issue on the concept of server up-time vs service up-time.

    I developed the patch management process that is used on the servers of one of the largest trading companies in the world. I got started on this at the time after hearing one of the server admins brag about an up-time over five years. What he was really saying was that he hadn't patched his servers in over 5 years. Unless your running a mainframe or a certain flavors of Linux a reboot is required for many patches.

    When one of those servers go down the cost is measured in the millions of dollars per minute. The culture took as a matter of pride to make sure that never happened. The best perceived way to avoid this was avoid anything that could affect server up-time. Since patching necessarily involved rebooting the server it simply wasn't done.

    Changing this culture was a half year long internal political fight that boiled down to a single thing. I posited the argument that server up-time should no longer be tracked as a metric and should instead be replaced with service up-time.

    During that half year period I developed the process (working with a lot of other teams) for patching these servers without affecting service up-time. Doing so involved creating a SLA that had server maintenance windows defined for specific times. It also explicitly defined that service availability would not be affected by having a server be unavailable during those very maintenance windows.

    Ultimately the culture was so entrenched that it literally took upper management handing down orders from on high that server up-time was no longer allowed to be tracked as a metric. In the end we were patching our servers on a routine basis and doing so without impacting service availability.

    • by elbles (516589)
      Excellent point, and a practice I've already seen at my current job (tracking service availability instead of server uptime--in fact, since I started, we've tracked nothing but service availability).

      That said, this has led us down the path of constantly increasing availability requirements, for things as (relatively) insignificant as an internal company blog. We're currently doing work between two new data centers, and one of the goals is to provide near 100% availability of all systems. It becomes very
  • Given that the FBI's security is shit [networkworld.com], if they're shocked at how bad yours is, you know you're fucked.

You had mail, but the super-user read it, and deleted it!

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